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Naomi – conclusions and insights

My ! – what a lofty title for a humble blog entry, it’s a shock to me too as I did not expect that a week of blogging detailing my task management could be so revealing. I was expecting the week long experiment to reveal to me how I mismanage my task list, perhaps push me towards a more integrated system (rather than the paper diary and endless bits of A4 lists I have now) or that I’d discover exactly how much time I waste dragging my feet on facebook and showing off to the virtual wilderness.

I was wrong – yes all that I have mentioned above does need addressing without a doubt, however the two biggest things that have come out of the week for me are about my need for connectedness with other people, that’s it ok to ask for help. The other thing has arisen out of conversations I have had outside my blog entries and journal writing, that I need to put a monetary value on what I do and go out there and start earning some real money for my skills.

For me the reaches of the week go far beyond time management and action planning. It was serendipitous that I felt so awful when the chronicling of the week began as it allowed me to search what I was doing and why. I know that the initial purpose of the blog was to be an insight in to the ways we work as artists and that alone is fascinating (I cannot thank Jacob enough for setting this up) and I hope I have not hijacked the logs with some turgid self-analysis fascinating to only myself (yes I know have a bit…) so I will wrap this up quickly.

Yes it was good and far better than I ever expected (finding out that Samera did a lot of work from her bed was a comfort and inspiration, finding out that Jacob was doing a workout whilst I am still hugging up to the last bit of warmth from my hot water bottle was awe inspiring). I guess for me the next step would be to meet again in 6 months and ask the question What has changed, what has stayed the same? And for now I want to know what other people feel they gained from the week.

Love always to all of you
Naomi x

One Eye On The Future…

Suffice to say, it’s been a good week. Personally, my style of ‘logging’ changed since I first did something like this in Facebook notes – I’ve written more blog entries than simply lists of activities. I think they make for better reading. But perhaps I need to be a bit more stringent about what it is that I’m trying to investigate in each entry. I have a zillion other outlets for general blogging. The specific goal for this blog was to survey daily productivity. By extension that’s become “survey daily productivity AND your feelings about what you have or haven’t done.”

From a few of the posts and comments, I can see that it’s been a useful experience for those of us that managed to make it all the way through. I’d love to know what happened to the people that started but never finished. I’d love to have seen more cross-commenting on each other’s posts. I’d love to see more comments from people that I know are passing by and following (I’ve had offline conversations with a couple of you…) And yes, I’d love to do it again. I’m thinking about the last week in January, and perhaps quarterly thereafter.

For future weeks, I’m considering inviting people to set their own personal challenges or observational guidelines. Maybe there’s something specific you’d be trying to achieve or survey during a week of this kind of logging. I think writing with specific/clear goals in mind would help your involvement to be a more valuable, transformative experience. Thoughts and responses on this and any other points in comments, please…

Between now and then, I’ll continue posting notes about productivity and related bits n’ pieces. Participants – you’re welcome to do the same. Whether you’re a participant or casual observer, I’m hoping to see you here in the future…

The Weekend Edition – part two (aka Day 7)

Sunday. Lovely Sunday.

Managed to keep my routine of reading first thing in the morning. Finished reading through Adrian Tomine’s Shortcomings, and which was worth the time invested. The protagonist is a thoroughly disagreeable character, with few if any redeeming features, but really, he’s trapped in the straight-jacket of his own personality. Loved the final few panels as the world outside the airplane window dropped away into nothing. It’s subtle and understated work, particularly bearing the medium in mind – reading a graphic novel, I’ve certainly been trained to expect more visual fx, even in the more adult (less spandex and superpowers) kind of graphic novels I prefer to read these days. I’ll be looking out for more Tomine in the future…

To maintain my reading schedule, I picked a few more books from the ‘To Read’ pile. There’s a lot there to choose from, but while I had my reasons for buying everything that’s there, I’m not currently excited by everything that’s in “the tower that threatens to collapse and drown me every time I look at it.” I pulled the 2009 edition of Rhino, Josh Waitzkin’s Art of Learning, and The Best American Essays 2006, which should keep me going until my next Amazon delivery.

For the rest of the morning, I wrote a journal entry, read a few articles that my RSS subscriptions turned up, and blogged a bit. Sorted through and archived photos from the past few months (lots of photographic work to post-process and post on the blog…) Drafted a rough idea for a poem inspired by watching CSI with the missus yesterday (Saturday) evening. Cleaned up the hard drive on my Macbook Pro (1GB left on a 250GB drive – not healthy…)

Early afternoon, I took myself to the National Portrait Gallery to check in on the Taylor Wessing Photographic Prize. Picked out a number of names of photographers to follow up on, but I wanted a little more about the story behind each image.

Handled a little shopping on Oxford Street and Tottenham Court Road in the rain (knitwear and stationery), then schlepped down to the Southbank. From the lack of impassioned “I’ll be there” messages, I didn’t think I’d be joined by any WHWDers, so I took the time out to plan 2010, plan the reboot of the Vineyard website in a bit more detail, read (Rhino 2009) and draft another poem. Then home to spend some quality time with the missus.

The Weekend Edition – part one (aka Day 6)

It occurs to me that I didn’t post anything over the weekend. When I invited people to join the blog, I presumed that they wouldn’t want to post “productivity journals” over the weekend. Tsk. Bearing in mind the kind of people I invited, I really should have known better.

Saturday, there wasn’t much to speak of. In the morning, I took care of the flat. Domestics, glorious domestics. That done, I moved on to some planning and reviewing. Notes taken on the kind of week I had in comparison to what I was hoping for, and the week ahead. One of the good things that’s I’ve observed from this week is the way my scheduling is heading in (what for me is) a good direction. A little more space in between things. Less manic activity. There are always busy periods and less busy periods, and I’m winding down for the end of the year, but I feel as if I have a pretty good relationship with the systems I use to manage incoming “stuff” and that can only be a good thing. Of course, such systems need to be stress tested…

Post-planning, I wrote the rest of Saturday off for quality time with mum. I took her to the V&A, where we ambled through the Fashion, Silverwork and Jewellery exhibitions. The only negative came when we tried to get something to eat at Kwality Tandoori on Thurloe Place. After 45 minutes without any indication of our ordered mango lassis arriving, and watching other guests abandon their tables in disgust with the quality of the service, we decided to jump ship.

Ended the day feeling good, ‘Kwality’ notwithstanding.

Day 7 — Samera

Sunday was a tricky day. I tried to do too much. I went to Church in the morning, I did the family thing and then I tried to attend two events. Didn’t quite squeeze it all in…

Church is always good. Though I try to skip my Sunday sessions, I more or less always end up going and more or less always leave feeling refreshed. I love being in Church. It’s a place where there’s always something bigger than you, more important than you, more senior than you, more in control than you, and that’s fine. There’s no power struggle here. There’s no shame in my reliance.

Then there’s all the routine; the Eucharistic prayer, communion, the repetition, much like mantras. You can just slip in and be carried along by the familiarity. It’s meditation at it’s highest form. Great stuff.

My Sundays are about blowing a big cozy bubble (church) and seeing how long I go before something bursts it (the world). The family thing went fine really, it just overran somewhat. It left me in a position where I couldn’t attend both of my evening functions. Both were important in different ways. I inevitably had to pick one but didn’t really enjoy being there as much as I should have because I had let down the side at the other place. The moment I was 10 minutes behind with my family stuff I had entered into loose loose territory.

I’m actually writing this entry on Monday night; I didn’t have the heart to write it on Sunday. I’ve very much enjoyed the process and I’m a bit gutted it’s coming to an end! I’ve learned so much about myself and others. Hooray for Jacob I say :o)


“I’ve been trying an experiment. Whenever I want to use the word “busy,” I substitute another word instead. I’ve been trying “excited” with mixed results. “I’ve been too excited with these projects to give you a call,” works. But it breaks down when trying to use it instead of saying no. “I’m too excited to speak at your conference,” hasn’t been as effective.”

via Liz Danzico (Bobulate)

Day 7 – Heather

Spend most of my free day in Belgrade in Dragana’s apartment.  I don’t wake up until 12 and then get dressed and read the script for 40 year old Virgin.  The ending of the actual film is so much better than it’s written – I’m glad they ended up doing the version we all know and love.  It’s breakfast/ lunch as we watch the news –  toast, Ajvar, tuna paste, pickles, homemade jams, muesli, and coffee. We hang out, get ready, phone calls are made and then it’s time to venture out.  4 o’clock and the day is already turning into night.  We visit the new book shop at the student centre and they have my book!  It takes a picture with Walt Whitman and Edgar Allen Poe’s books and me of course.  As we walk through town, Dejan and Dragana point out the world around us and they don’t mind me stopping every so often (i.e. every couple of steps) to take photos.  We go to St. Stava’s (the biggest church in Belgrade – maybe even Serbia).  It’s not finished yet but further along than I saw it 2 years ago.

We hoped on a trolley and headed further into town.  My friend Milan said that the trolleys in Belgrade are mainly old Russian or Czech trolleys that were given a bit of polish before being given for free to Serbia.  They were excited to have them but the trolleys are all old and have a habit of breaking.  Not good when there is already a problem with traffic congestion. Dejan wanted to take me to the writers centre in the same building as the Association of Literary Translators but the gates were shut. 

Dinner was at “?” which is a traditional Serbian restaurant that’s been around since the beginning of the 1800s.  We shared pickled cabbage, vegetables, squid, carp and tasty bread.  All accompanied with Serbian Wine.  We finished eating and headed to my last gig of the trip.  Here is a little something from that night: Poetry, wine, laughs and a bus ride home at 1 am to pack my bags. 

Home again, home again, jiggitty jig.

Naomi – Day 6 (written on day 7)

It’s Sunday morning and I am in bed on my lap top. I’m not sure if this is a good thing, it means there’s a fudged edge between work and play and perhaps my bed should be sacred and technology free, but it’s cold and I am quite enjoying this 21st Century version of a lie-in.

Yesterday met Richard Tyrone Jones (he of flaming red hair) for a photoshoot. We walked along the canal and then had a potter around Camden Passage. I am still a digital SLR novice. In my film SLR days I used an OM1 which I still have. I shot in Black and White, mostly HP5 and my interaction with the camera was about the relationship between shutter speed and aperture. In simple terms I often worked with a very shallow depth of field (ie, only a few things in sharp focus and, in my case, the background being a blur) and, in this way, I could concentrate on the framing of the picture and how I developed a relationship with my subject.

Since buying the Canon from Jacob it’s all changed. For a start I am shooting in colour and I have to adjust my vision to understand this, to know how this translates to a digital image. This is my biggest learning curve and one I am enjoying, although I have to admit my heart is still loyal to black and white images. I also have so much more choice which means I can change ISO speed from shot to shot. I know this is standard for anyone with a digital camera but for someone who learnt her craft on a Zenit it still feels like an incredible luxury. I am also learning how to see again, how to take the actual photographs as it has been a good ten years since I’ve done this.

But why mention all this – Samera said something about freelancers working in isolation but us often having similar concerns. I think the digital photography thing serves as a fitting metaphor of what I have learnt this week. When I first starting taking photographs I had to master the camera, and the darkroom. I spent many hours there perfecting my prints. The process was long and thoughtful. Today it’s much quicker and I can share the image within minutes of taking the shot. The camera offers me more choices and in many ways the whole process is more interactive and less isolating. I’m not saying it’s better (I will always love film photography, what it requires and what comes out of it), but it serves as a reminder for my very personal need for interaction.

Not much else to say about Saturday, the shoot was good albeit freezing. The meeting I was supposed to be having with Agnes and Kamaria about a poetry anthology did not happen as Kamaria got the wrong address and could not be reached on the phone. It gave me some catch up time with Agnes and we went back to hers to eat quiche and watch Star Trek Next Generation. I cycled home under an unappetising shower of cold rain. At home I hopped on my old lady of a mac and began looking for photos of Richard that had real bite, an edge which will make the viewer want to linger on the picture. I think I have one, taken in front of a shop selling monochrome prints of the Beatles and Jimi Hendrix, taken on film of course.

Working Hard?

“We’re all workaholics now. And yet, I suspect the problem is not so much that we work too hard. Rather, it’s that we work hard without being quite sure what we’re working for.”

Mark Vernon on Working Hard (via the School of Life)

Day 6 – Denrele

Wake up late (almost 10). Have to be in North London for 12 for a Christmas crafts day/saturday lunch with friends.

Am now very aware that I am yet to pack and a sort of low level panic has set in. I really hate packing. I really hate moving and yet this seems to be the only thing I’ve been doing this year. I have moved 3 times this year already and I still can’t get the hang of it.

I’m too distracted to even remember to do my morning pages and abandoning my usual routine at weekends doesn’t help. Instead I’m straight to faffing on the computer. Then I head towards North London. It’s a cold day but sunny. I left the bike at work last night so I’m taking public transport.

Crafts and lunch go well but I’m a bit distracted and jittery. Nothing feels right today and I cannot settle. Head back to South London around 5.30, stop along the way to pick up the bike from work and am back home before 7.

I start pulling things together and packing them away. I realise I have no empty boxes but I decide I’ll just chuck things in bin bags instead. I don’t care. I just want to clear the room.

I am such a hoarder. No matter how empty handed I am when I enter a space I always leave feeling that I have filled the space with junk. This is no different. I don’t understand why I am constantly surrounding myself with junk. I don’t even like clutter and I’m forever admiring those people who keep a clear desk and somehow manage to be tidy and organised. I decide that once I’ve moved into the new space, I will be better at keeping it clear. But I always say that. Sigh.

Pack some more then take a break to watch Spooks on the iplayer.

Feel really sleepy. Switch off computer and get to bed. It’s 12.30. I’ve not done any writing today. No meditation.

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